March 5, 2015 by ACE Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute  
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Managing Stress
by ACE Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute

Stress Tid Bits.

    • Good stress is acute and relatively short in duration.
    • Stressful situations release neurochemicals into the system and produce the “fight or flight” phenomenon.
    • The most common unhealthy actions that people use to manage their stress is alcohol /drug consumption and smoking and binge eating.
    • Positive stress in short duration is often referred to “eustress”.
    • Seek the advice of a physical therapist for ways to manage your stress.

Everyday we face of a world of challenges and opportunities that can trigger stress. We all experience emotional stress at some point and this can be good or bad. The effect of stress can depend the level of stress, the type of situation, and how we manage it in the moment. Many people struggle to manage stress and control emotions effectively. For a healthy and fulfilling life, it is essential to understand what stress is and how to manage it.

Good Stress

In some situations, stress is actually beneficial, helping us to function more effectively. It can motivate us to be more conscientious and focused in decision-making and acting on difficult tasks.  For example, stress can help us to meet a deadline, successfully study and prepare for an upcoming exam, or service all of the clients in an extremely busy business. Good stress increases our cognitive levels, helping us to block out” insignificant data and focus our thoughts.

Stress also improves physical performance.  The “fight or flight” phenomenon is a neuropsychological response to a stressful situation.  It increases heart rate, blood pressure and adrenaline in the body and the ability to perform at a more intense level for a longer period of time is present.

soccer players in air

Many athletes experience this stressful response when they compete in an important contest or “have their backs against the wall” during a competition.  The stressful situation enhances performance response needed to tackle the task at hand.

Bad Stress

Negative stress can be extremely damaging to the human body.  If a situation creates stress for a prolonged period of time or at in intolerable intensity level, it can cause detrimental consequences. A situation can cause bad stress, but a lifestyle can also be the source of bad stress. Both are potentially devastating to over-all health. Stress causes the release of cortisol, a hormone linked to hypertension, anxiety, depression, cancer and stroke. Excess stress can lead to a host of health issues. One of the best ways to reduce the cortisol levels in your body is to perform physical activity such as cardiovascular exercise.

Many physical therapists are skilled and trained at educating their patients and the general public in ways to manage stress.  Physical therapists can help someone with an exercise routine that will help to reduce stress and cortisol in their system.  The exercise routine will include both strength training and cardiovascular conditioning.  The ability to reduce cortisol and other detrimental by-products of stress is better accomplished when the individual is active and participates in a general exercise routine.   Physical therapists are trained in educating their patients in relaxation techniques that include proper breathing techniques and frequency when they are faced with a stressful situation.

There are many ways to avoid stress in our lives because it can be detrimental, but the bottom line on this emotion is that it can help someone in many ways providing that person is able to harness the energy that it may provide at a certain time.  Speak to your physical therapist for suggestions on ways to manage the stress in your life.

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